Why Your Political Participation Matters To Reproductive Justice
Written by Louise Vazquez, Boulder Valley Women’s Health Development and Communications Coordinator
Political participation and reproductive justice cannot live without one another. To ensure reproductive justice, we cannot remain silent at the ballot box and in our communities about the stigmas and falsehoods that undermine access to care. We must be active in reforming social norms that have stigmatized the body and how we care for it. In the current political arena where wealthy white men wish to undermine bodily autonomy and self-determination, we must combat misinformation that brings and keeps these individuals in power. The propaganda that completely disregards the well-being and choice of the person carrying a pregnancy or seeking needed care can no longer be tolerated. The right for a person to live in their own bodies as they are should no longer be threatened. Barriers to healthcare built on racism and discrimination, and placed in front of disadvantaged communities must be dismantled. Family, public, and reproductive health are at risk; and the repercussions of losing laws that protect these values are severe.
With regard to abortion, the American Public Health Association explains that when access to abortion care is denied, the socioeconomic consequences can be incredibly drastic on the well-being of the pregnant individual. In a study examining the difference in socioeconomic status between women who received an abortion vs those who were denied, women denied an abortion were more likely to be in poverty six months after denial, more likely to remain in poverty for the following four years, less likely to be employed full time, and more likely to be on public assistance. This has repercussions on the woman and her child and can have lasting effects on creating a healthy and educated generation for the future. A great way to affect these situations is to support legislation and candidates who not only advocate for keeping abortion legal, but also support family planning programs that help prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place.
In 2009, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment launched the Colorado Family Planning Initiative that provided training, operational support and low- or no-cost long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs= IUDs and implants) to low income women and teens statewide. Between 2009 and 2014, birth and abortion rates declined by nearly 50 percent among teens aged 15-19 and 20 percent among young women aged 20-24. The state also averted public assistance costs that totaled between $54.6 and $66.6 million as a result.
Political participation on matters of reproductive justice is pivotal in protecting programs that help women, children, and our society. The costs of denying people abortions and access to family planning, along with denying self-determination, are too high to ignore. Your participation and advocacy on reproductive health issues is of paramount importance this election season and those to come. Reproductive justice is something that means safety and better health for our families and society as a whole. In our eyes, that is worth going to the polls for.
How you can help:
Vote this election season and those to come. Voting once does not build lasting change. The same goes for all other forms of political action.
Take your friends with you. Politics is something that effects all of us and the more voices we have the less space there is for our leaders to shut out the noise.
Put your money where your mouth is. If you have the means, it is time to support organizations, candidates, and causes that work to protect reproductive rights.
The power of sustained collective political action has the ability to change the way society functions for generations to come. If we truly wish to see this, we must realize that change never comes from apathy or letting someone else do the job for us. Change comes from epitomizing and taking action to bring forth what we wish to see in the world. May we all be committed enough to walk that path on November 6th and for years to come.